Sunday, October 13, 2013

What I've Been Pondering: Teleporters and Teleportation


A hypothetical method of transportation in which matter or information is dematerialized, usually instantaneously, at one point and recreated at another.

Sometimes, it seems like it would be really nice to have a teleporter. None of this: “Traffic is too slow today, I’m going to be late for my work/school/blood donation,” you just press a button, and your atoms have been separated, flying through the air at the speed of light to re-form wherever you want to be. At least, that’s how Star Trek makes it look. But would teleporters really be all that great?

SO,  teleporters. Since nobody has built a teleporter yet, I can’t talk about present-day examples. Hey wait- yes I can!

 The idea of teleportation  is one that re-occurs in almost every genre of fiction. The most obvious example, of course, is Star Trek. Everyone knows what “Beam me up Scotty” means. The transporter room was one of the most important on the Enterprise. This advanced technology was used to move the away-team from the Enterprise to whatever alien planet they were boldly venturing to next. It was used for emergency evacuations, especially from exploding ships, hostile planets, and other issues. But, like all technology, transporters in the Star Trek universe had their limitations. For one, unless the transporter can lock onto your location, you’re not going anywhere. Also, the beam could malfuction at the most inopportune times. Sorry, that’s just how it is. 

And that… could be a problem, like in this video, when the Enterprise is being drained of energy and so can't extract Spock.

Another example of teleportation in popular media is Apparation and Disapparation in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, which is basically teleportation via magical means.

As long as you’d studied how to do it properly, you could do it (and even take a friend with you using Side-Along-Apparation) with minimal discomfort. If you don’t know how to do it properly however, you could end up Splinched- that is, put together wrong, or with parts… missing. Exactly as painful as it sounds. Wizards treat it like getting a driver’s licence- you get Apparation Ed at Hogwarts, and take a test for your official license. 
So if teleportation were to become a reality, we’d probably have to issue many of the same precautions that JK establishes in her novels.

Privacy issues are a problem which could occur with teleportation. After all, robbery could be really easy with this new tech, and you could literally get away with murder- instantaneous transportation enables for convenient getaways.

Rowling allows for some of these problems: for example, apparating is generally blocked in most wizarding buildings… except for Dumbledore, apparently. 

 Wait wait wait. In the books, he and Harry sneak out to Hogsmeade under the Invisibility Cloak.
That's right. 
Dumbledore. Can’t. Apparate. In. Hogwarts. But house-elves can, because they're awesome.

Not addressed in these examples, however, is the consequences of eliminating all travel time. Some people like airplanes. (Some people don't.)

Would teleportation render airplanes defunct? I know I would miss them… 

This would probably mean the end of enjoying an afternoon drive, or the road trip. To date, I personally have spent too many hours in the car, on road trips with my family, to count. At least two per year, probably. Maybe.

Also, why would you want to give up cars?

This would probably eliminate the need for…  a journey. And honestly, do we need any more reasons to speed up our already high-speed lives? We’d be expected to be on time, all the time. Which probably means we’d find other things to fill up our time, and we’d stay exactly as busy as before. 

 Here's something interesting: Hayao Miyazaki doesn't fill his narratives with excessive action, but gives his characters time to breathe. In an interview with Roger Ebert in 2002, Miyazaki discussed this decision:

'I told Miyazaki I love the "gratuitous motion" in his films; instead of every movement being dictated by the story, sometimes people will just sit for a moment, or they will sigh, or look in a running stream, or do something extra, not to advance the story but only to give the sense of time and place and who they are.
"We have a word for that in Japanese," he said. "It's called ma. Emptiness. It's there intentionally."
Is that like the "pillow words" that separate phrases in Japanese poetry?
"I don't think it's like the pillow word." He clapped his hands three or four times. "The time in between my clapping is ma. If you just have non-stop action with no breathing space at all, it's just busyness. But if you take a moment, then the tension building in the film can grow into a wider dimension. If you just have constant tension at 80 degrees all the time you just get numb."'
- Hayao Miyazaki interview with Roger Ebert
If we were to institute teleportation, the likiehood is that we would actually have LESS spare time than we already do. We wouldn't get small moments where we were caught in the rain, or waited for a ride, or just relaxed. 
Emptiness is important, and if teleportation did away with that, I think that we would become less than we are now.

Tell me what you think: would teleporters be beneficial or not?

Monday, September 2, 2013

Lawrence KS: Fem! Dean Winchester Cosplay

My sisters happened to be going to a summer camp in Lawrence, Kansas (!) the week that I returned, and so that weekend we drove out to meet them there. Obviously, we couldn't pass Lawrence by without breaking out some Supernatural cosplay.

My youngest sister Elizabeth portrayed Castiel, an Angel of the Lord, I portrayed a female version of Dean Winchester, while my sister Lydia portrayed Sam Winchester.

 Sam picks the lock, while Dean and Cas stand watch.

"This case look like one of ours?"

We also wanted to take some cosplay pictures at a local toy store, so we walked across the street. As we passed the pizza place next to the toy store, we heard a familiar sound- "Carry on Wayward Son" by Kansas was playing inside!
Clearly, we were in the right place to cosplay Supernatural. Or, alternately, that we were bound for trouble, which would ultimately culminate in a bloody final battle. We weren't sure which.

Dean finds some miniature classic cars, though, sadly, no '67 Impalas.

 Meanwhile, Sam checks out the chess sets. Cas skulks behind the glass case.

Cas examines a fighter jet.
In the bookstore, everyone looks at books.

Cas doesn't realize that it is somewhat creepy to stare over someone's shoulder.

Team Free Will finally gets nametags.

Great photoshoot, guys! I had a lot of fun, and I hope that you did too.

Last Day in England: (Saturday 20 July) Heathrow Airport

I woke early and took the Tube to Heathrow Airport.

I was shocked to see that it had been invaded.

My flight was delayed (probably due to the Dalek menace), so I had a smoothie and a breakfast wrap while I waited.

I watched no less than 4 in-flight movies, and returned home tired, but happy.


Saturday, August 31, 2013

Cambridge Day 13 (Friday, July 19) Farewell to Cambridge, Back to London

Friday was the last day of class, and also my last day in Cambridge. During the lunch break I printed boarding passes and packed up my stuff, so I could be ready to leave for my hostel in the afternoon. After lunch, we met in the next-door pub, the Pickerel, to wrap up all the loose ends from class.

Then, we roamed the town, picking up a few last-minute souvenirs.

 I picked up this lovely beret, which I'd been eying ever since our third day in Cambridge.

Then after saying my goodbyes, I turned in my room key and bid farewell to Magdalene College.

I took a taxi to the train station, where I boarded a train bound for London.

I arrived at Platform 8, so of course I had to find Platform 9 3/4s. 

At King's Cross Tube Station, I found a commemorative tiled art display for the Tube's 150th anniversary.

I took the Tube to Earl's Court Station, where I found a police box which was the bluest blue ever.
Then I was on my way to my hostel, YHA London Earl's Court.
I checked in with no trouble, dropped off my stuff, and grabbed dinner and breakfast for the next day at a Mark and Spencer's down the road.

I ate in the hostel's sizable garden, which sported picnc tables and several lovely trees.

I turned in early, for I was to leave early the next morning on the Tube, bound for Heathrow Airport.

Cambridge Day 12 (Thursday, July 18) Wren Library

Thursday was the second-to-last official day of class. We went to check out the Wren Library during the lunch break.
 Inside, I got to see Shakespeare's First Folio, letters from Michael Faraday, and part of Sir Isaac Newton's original Principia.

 That night, we all went together to an Indian restaurant down the street from Magdalene College.

After an excellent dinner, we went to check out the roof-top bar on top of the Varsity hotel. The sky had just reached that blue-grey color where twilight dissolves into true night, and Cambridge was stretched out below us, beautiful under the growing moon.

 We hung out by the side of the River Cam, talking.

(Sorry for the bad quality, my camera does not understand low-light conditions)